AS-AP

Interview with Charlie Clough, Founding Member, Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center

Posted June 13, 2011 by Anonymous
Interviewer: 
Sandra Q. Firmin, Curator, UB Art Gallery
Interview Date: 
Monday, March 14, 2011
Person Interviewed: 
Charlie Clough, Founding Member- Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center
Place of Interview: 
The Home of Sandra Q. Firmin

 

Preface

The following oral history transcript is the result of a recorded interview with Charlie Clough on March 14, 2011.  The interview took place at the home of Sandra Q. Firmin and was conducted by Sandra Q. Firmin.  This interview was funded by the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA)

Charlie Clough and Sandra Q. Firmin have reviewed the transcript and have made corrections and emendations. The reader should bear in mind that he or she is reading a transcript of spoken, rather than written, prose.

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License.

 

Interview

SANDRA FIRMIN:  The following interview is being conducted with Charlie Clough, on behalf of Art Spaces Archives Project, for the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College. The interview is taking place on March 14th, 2011, at Sandra Firmin’s house. The person conducting the interview is Sandra Firmin.

 

If you could begin, going back even further than when you attended Pratt and Ontario College of Art and Design in Toronto, if you could speak about just growing up in Buffalo.

 

CHARLES CLOUGH:  Yeah. My parents lived in the Kensington section until I was sixteen. I went to P.S. 68. And let’s see. We had an art teacher there. She was encouraging. I remember making abstract paintings that were kind of like Ken Noland’s, in seventh grade. We were wearing madras shirts, so madras informed my art making at that point. That was just one aspect. I was a ten-year-old, twelve-year-old, into making model cars. And there were some illustrators, Ed Roth, who did t-shirt illustrations, with monsters in their cars; that was sort of a formative influence. My mother took my brothers and sisters and I to the Buffalo Museum of Science on Saturdays. There were classes and activities that were pretty engaging, from— I don’t remember when she started taking us.

 

FIRMIN:  I love their dioramas.


CLOUGH:  Yeah, their dioramas are incredible. And it was even better in those days, because sometime in the seventies, I think, they redid the museum with supergraphics and minimized some of the displays that were made probably in the thirties. And those displays from the thirties, like the dioramas, were really wonderful. There was a model of the body, as if it were a factory – that was insane. Sort of a Surrealist crazy thing, but made, I’m guessing, by some German person, that being one of the big ethnic groups in the city. Very meticulously made. But artifacts at the museum, and I’ve just sort of come into realizing this in the last couple of years, that the artifacts, stone implements and wall drawings, sand painting, stuff like that, were all really influential, ultimately, for me. So the Museum of Science was my first institution beyond schools. My parents took my brothers and sisters and I to the Albright. I remember a Wyeth show and a Van Gogh show. We’d go to the history museum, too. That was interesting. But the Museum of Science was the primary institution of my youth— Going to the county parks, going to— One of my uncles had a place outside of East Aurora that we’d go to, that was sort of the nature component for childhood.

 

FIRMIN:  So it seemed pretty vibrant in Buffalo.

 

CLOUGH:  Yeah, yeah. It really was. I was happy growing up in Buffalo. In eighth grade, it was time to choose high schools. Hutch Tech had an advertising art department and course. At that point, they had building design and construction, electrical engineering, materials technology—physics, I guess you’d call it. And at that point, it was all boys. So I tested for the art department and was accepted into it.

 

FIRMIN:  And this would’ve been the sixties?

 

CLOUGH:  Yeah. Like ’62. ’62 to ’69, I think, would be my span of time there. And there were teachers—Hildegard Rooney and Albert Fierman—who were encouraging and kind of great people, really. And so I went through that program, which in the last two years, included photography. For my senior year, the city decided to move this department to McKinley High School. Ironically, both schools were [located] on Elmwood; one at the south end and one at the north end. We were a little disappointed being disconnected from the more college-directed situation of Hutch Tech to McKinley, with bricklaying and horticulture. Hey. Am I a snob? Oops. Anyway— But I graduated from there and applied to Pratt. I applied to RIT, also but decided to go to Pratt. Actually, while I was in my senior year, there was a senior project that I don’t remember very well; but part of it, as I sort of formulated it with Al Fierman, had to do with working towards setting up a situation for exchange amongst like-minded, art-oriented young people. It was very ill defined and it didn’t take any kind of shape at that point, but it was the kernel of what turned into Hallwalls. So I went to Pratt and— Before I had gone there, I became familiar with Abstract Expressionism and Pop art at the Albright-Knox. I was vaguely aware of the Festivals for the Arts in the late sixties. I think it was ’65 and ’68 maybe.

 

FIRMIN:  In Buffalo?

 

CLOUGH:  Yeah. But I learned more about that from reading the Time Magazine article than I did from participating.

 

FIRMIN:  What were the Festivals for the Arts?

 

CLOUGH:  I think Duchamp came for the first one, and Robert Morris and Yvonne Rainer were dancing nude in the second one, and John Cage was involved.

 

FIRMIN:  And this was hosted by the Albright?

 

CLOUGH:  Yeah, I think. Maybe UB and Creative Associates were [also] involved. A lot of it was music oriented. I’m sure there’s source material that could be easily found and tell you everything about it. But which is to say, as a teenager, I was only peripherally aware.  But when I went to Pratt and would see original Picassos in gallery windows, and visited my teacher’s loft and saw, oh, this is what an artist is— An artist writes his or her job description and fulfills it. So that was very enlightening.

 

FIRMIN:  What was the curriculum like?

 

CLOUGH:  Foundation year, all first-year students, like in many, maybe most art schools, they take two-dimensional design, three-dimensional design, color, and life drawing and some humanities, English, gym, some stuff like that. And for the first semester, I felt challenged, and so I jumped through all the hoops and did what I was supposed to do. And the second semester, I did more exploring of the city. I went to an art director’s office, for a car magazine, that I was a big fan of, and I went to the Society of Illustrators, and went to the Met and the Whitney and MoMA. And it was the semester of— the first semester of ’69 and then second semester of ’70, and that was kind of going into Kent State and the Cambodian invasion. And the school went on strike and things just kind of like petered out, in a way, academically. I mean, on the other side, politically, they were coming to a head. Second semester, I spent a lot of time with a girlfriend and sort of was diverted by that. There was, for me, a crisis about— Because at the end of that foundation year, you [were supposed to] decide on whether you were going to be a painter or an advertising person or an industrial designer or— I don’t know what else. So I was uncertain. And sometime around then the Whole Earth Catalog came out, and that kind of blew my mind, in terms of options about what you might do with your hands and a book and a hammer and so on. So when I left school, I thought, well, maybe I won’t come back. Over the summer, back in Buffalo, I was— Because I was sort of put off by the pretentiousness of art— When I say pretentiousness, I mean, for example, in the two-dimensional design class, most of what we did was defend our solutions to the week’s problem, which is commonly referred to as bullshit.

 

FIRMIN:  There was a lack of dialog, it sounds like.

 

CLOUGH:  Yeah.  It’s almost like the work that we did stood less on its appearance than on our rationale and our rap about what we thought was going on with the work. So that sort of pushed me towards craft and the idea of being a furniture maker. And I looked around the Buffalo area when I was back here, and there was a guy who was teaching at Buff[alo] State, Doug Sigler, who I think is still around here, making furniture in Orchard Park. And I was staying with my parents in East Aurora and I could ride my bicycle to Orchard Park and sweep his floor and sort of pretend I was an apprentice to a furniture maker. So in September, I officially dropped out of Pratt and I— You know, it was kind of a nothing-was-going-on kind of time. I don’t think I had a job. I’d go to UB and Buff[alo] State and go to the art libraries and read bound periodicals—which is kind of my art history education—sort of backwards from [the] current back into the fifties. Actually, I think it was a pretty good education, because I learned all the stuff that went on in that chunk of time from Artforum, Art in America, Studio International. I forget what else, but—

 

So after September to January, to January of ’71, poking around, trying to find something to do, latch into, work at an ad agency or— At one point, I walked into Gallery West run by Russell Drisch, who suggested that I go see Larry Griffis at the Ashford Hollow Foundation and maybe I could be an assistant to Larry. And I did that. I was also interested in visiting 30 Essex Street, because Duayne Hatchett had a studio there.

 

FIRMIN:  Could you describe what Ashford Hollow Foundation was at that point?

 

CLOUGH:  Yeah. I think it’s 30,000 square feet of industrial space that had been built as an ice house. I think they harvested the ice in the river or the lake, and stored it there. They were tall, almost like a cube, thirty-foot cube that was insulated with cork, where they apparently kept the ice.

 

FIRMIN:  Was it still in use at that time?

 

CLOUGH:  Well, no, not as an ice house, no. Larry Griffis’ father had a hosiery company, textile company. And they had a factory on Niagara Street. I don’t know exactly the chronology, but there were like five sons, Larry and Jack and a couple others. I think probably what happened is that the father died and then the kids sold the company to a bigger textile conglomerate kind of thing, and so they all got kind of some loot. So Larry pursued being an artist, sculptor. Rod Griffis got the old Studio Arena Theater. So originally, Larry was working in the Niagara Street facility, and the Essex Street [facility] was for sale. And he bought it a couple of years before I got there. So I went and visited him and he was making these monumental sculptures [of women]. They were made in plaster, over steel armatures, that he would then take plaster casts off of and then cast those in aluminum, and then weld these aluminum plates together. So he, in fact, wanted somebody to help him make the molds. And much of the space there was not occupied. As I say, Duayne Hatchett had a studio; Don Robertson had a studio; and there was a guy that was making stained glass fixtures.

 

FIRMIN:  So they had different facilities for welding and—

 

CLOUGH:  Yeah. Well, it was more like it was raw space, and whoever was working there brought in their tools and so on to do whatever they were doing. But most of it was undeveloped. There was also a sailboat maker in the part that Hallwalls ultimately was [established] in. But so this is like 1971.  We decided that I’d trade studio assistance for having a space there, a studio, a studio that I slept in. And soon after that, through my mother, I got a job working at the Roycroft in East Aurora, waiting on tables. So I basically set up a schedule then that was— I’d work at the Roycroft on weekends and be in my studio during the week. But that would also allow time to hitchhike to New York, when I wanted to see what was going on there. So I’d work for Larry. I don’t remember how many hours, but I’d do that and then I’d work on my own projects, and I’d go to UB and Buff[alo] State to read in the libraries there.

 

FIRMIN:  When did you go to the Ontario College of Art and Design?

 

CLOUGH:  That was ’72 — No, no, ’71, ’72. So the time I would be— January, February of ’71, I went to Ashford Hollow. And then I had been looking at Canadian schools because of the draft. But my draft number was 354, so— and that was something that came out early in ’71. But I realized that Ontario College of Art was really cheap. It was like a tenth of the price of Pratt. And I’d been visiting Toronto since I was a teenager, and there was a fairly vibrant gallery scene, and it was a more cosmopolitan city than Buffalo. So I applied and was accepted, and then started the following September. So I’d been at Ashford Hollow for six or eight months, something like that; then I went to Toronto. I would come back to Buffalo regularly. [My] girlfriend lived in Buffalo, so— And the girlfriend went to UB and I— I sort of had taken on UB as a default, home institution, without really thinking about it, because it was there and there was education and stuff. And part of it, one of the things that I realized was there was media studies. Gerry O’Grady was just beginning to program his schedule of both the people he had as instructors, and visiting artists, showing their films. There was a conference—I’m thinking maybe it was in ’73—about autobiography and independent American film, that was especially enlightening. And this was at the same time that Artforum was covering independent American cinema, Brakhage, Frampton, Sharits, Michael Snow. When I was going to school in Toronto, I went to Snow’s home studio, home-slash-studio. And Toronto, the school Ontario College of Art, that particular year, ’71 to ’72, had gotten a new president that they— I think they were impressed by how Nova Scotia College of Art and Design had gotten a lot of publicity and seemed to be very avant-garde and so on. So [the] Ontario College of Art [OCAD] got Roy Ascott, who was into cybernetics and systems and— he came and totally, [chuckles] like renovated the way the school was run. So it was kind of like the one year that I was there was this kind of nutty year. I’ve seen that there’s a book out about that particular year there.

 

FIRMIN:  How so, would you say nutty?

 

CLOUGH:  Well, as opposed to that foundation curriculum that I described before. I remember this chart with all these circles and kind of interconnected circles and overlaps. I mean, it was like a free school; you take whatever you want. There were no requirements. It was kind of a hippie manifestation of that time and revolutionary. John Chandler was somebody who had written, with Lucy Lippard— He was a teacher that I was— I took classes from him there. I sat in on a lot of art history classes, looking at slides. But a key thing was A Space. I guess from what I’ve read recently is that they started as a commercial gallery in the late sixties. But when I was there, they were going through a change from commercial to not-for-profit and they were plugging into Willoughby Sharp and Avalanche magazine and Vito Acconci. I first ran into Avalanche magazine at UB, in their bookstore and was really impressed. That had a lot of sort of orientation, orienting for me. So—

 

FIRMIN:  So why did you decide to come back to Buffalo and not finish at OCAD?

 

CLOUGH:  Yeah. It was my intention to go there for more than a year. I wanted to see what Toronto was like. When I was going to Pratt, I remember getting material from the New York Studio School, which was maybe just being formed then. Mercedes Matter and I’m not sure who else. But it had this really romantic rhetoric about artists being self-made and self-determined and so on. And at that point, while I was still going to Pratt, I was swept up by this. And after working with the furniture guy and hanging out in the libraries— A major thing in the libraries was Jack Burnham’s Beyond Modern Sculpture, which pulled me into art. I closed the door on craft and decided that I would be an artist. Well, he was writing articles for Artforum. And reading Artforum, on top of my experience of being in New York, seeing the teacher’s loft and so on, made it clear that if you’re an artist, you write your job description and you become self-directed. So why I left OCA, or OCAD—I guess they have design tacked onto the end of their name now—it was just I— January 5th, 1971, I said to myself, “I will be an artist.” And it’s like, I’ll sort of define what my projects are and I’ll do various things that will educate me. I’ll go to the library and read, I’ll go to exhibitions and see stuff, I’ll go to galleries and see what that’s all about, and I’ll go to artist’s studios and pick their brains and— You know, Toronto was a way to just go and be in a different place. It was good. It was really good.

 

FIRMIN:  So fast forward to when you first met— You were saying that you were introduced to Robert Longo by Joe Panone. And what was that meeting like?

 

CLOUGH:  Well, Panone was a student of Duayne Hatchett’s. So Joe got a studio, in between where Hatchett’s and mine was. And his wife—maybe she wasn’t his wife then, but—Brooks, Brooks, Linda Brooks, she was in the photo department. And there was a sculptor named John Bjorge, who had a home studio at Ashford Hollow. He was a welder, who again, was one of Hatchett’s people. So you know, the context began to grow. I was the first person that lived in the building, although Larry started moving there soon after. He split up with his wife and— So while I was living there, other people began to take studios and there was sort of a shoot-the-shit kind of conversational— You know, you’d see people, “Hi, and what are you doing?” You know, we’d look at each other’s work and have some sense— But it was very casual and easy going. My sense of UB was Hatchett, Robertson; they were both formalist artists. How much they paid attention to Conceptual art and the things that were important to me— Didn’t seem like they were so interested in those things. Joe Panone, his assistantship was at Buff[alo] State, which is where he met Robert. And when he brought Robert around, Robert would complain about the figurative artists. Tony Patterson, I think. I mean, I’d gone to Buff[alo] State to sit in on Les Krims’ classes. Krims was a big deal in those days. He’s a sort of antagonistic person, in my experience, so I didn’t get an awful lot out of that. Barbara Ravelle was teaching there then, and she sort of sought me out.

 

So Joe brought Robert over. Robert, charismatic fellow that he is, had a circle of friends who tagged along with him, including Cindy [Sherman]. And Robert was curious about what I was curious about. And so I showed him all my books and magazines and said, “Here’s my stuff.” And he went through all that stuff and absorbed it and—  When I was at A Space, or even before I was at A Space, when I was in the first couple of months at Ashford Hollow, I was thinking, how can I use this context to have something— You know, a social situation that would be exciting and stimulating and empowering and help to get my work out. And at one point, Larry had contact with some funding agency, and I was—

 

FIRMIN:  Was he giving you money at this point?

 

CLOUGH:  No.

 

FIRMIN:  You were paying rent on this space?

 

CLOUGH:  No, it was—

 

FIRMIN:  Oh, the assistantship.

 

CLOUGH:  Yeah. It was an exchange of my assistance for free rent, and there were things like Ant Farm and the architectural collectives that put up geodesic domes and Arcosanti and various things that were stimulating to me. So I’d been thinking about this stuff before I went to Toronto. And then when I went to Toronto, there was A Space. Simultaneously, I’d be going to New York and watched Artists Space come into being. And as a place that was for emerging artists, I was attracted to it, and figured out who was running it and the director, the board of directors, what their process was for showing people. And the year before Hallwalls, there was another sculptor-slash-potter at Ashford Hollow, Howard Friedman, who at that point, was married to Terry Gross. Through Judy Treible and Joe Hryvniak, people that I met at UB, in the music room at Norton Union, I had this association with people connected with student activities, money, at UB. So Howie [Howard Friedman] was kind of part of that. But he had a studio at Ashford Hollow, making his pots, and he was beginning to get into sculpture. So probably in ’73, he and I had conversations about doing exhibition[s] in empty space[s] at Ashford Hollow. He left Buffalo to go to [the] School of Visual Arts, and it didn’t congeal at that point. And then when Robert came into the picture and I was spouting the same party line about, well, you know, if we show artists, then the artists will come, and then they’ll know who we are, and then we’ll have an audience, and maybe they can hook us up with a gallery. And Robert [Longo] liked that idea. Robert was into Robert Irwin at the time. And so he got in touch with Irwin and Irwin came to Buffalo for nothing because he’s kind of nuts, in his own special way. So that was the first event.

 

FIRMIN:  And that took place at Buff[alo] State?

 

CLOUGH:  Yeah. Well, he was at Ashford Hollow Foundation. I’m thinking that he spoke at Buff[alo] State. Robert was involved with the student activity money for— or at least art student activity money at Buff[alo] State. I know Irwin flew here for nothing; he might’ve gotten fifty bucks for a speaker fee or something like that, but— That was, like November of ’74. So that’s how we hang our origin in 1974. But the first show wasn’t until February of ’75, which was Working on Paper, with a laundry list of all the artists of any reputation in western New York.

 

FIRMIN:  Did you mix it with local artists? Or was it—

 

CLOUGH:  It was just local artists. But it included friends and Paul Sharits and Hatchett and some other UB, Buff[alo] State people. There were twenty or thirty people in the show, of course, including our own work. And you know, we were doing these trips to New York and talking to people at Artists Space, people at Avalanche, Willoughby Sharp and Liza Bear. And Willoughby and Liza were both happy to come up and, like do their song and dance and connect us with the artists that they were publicizing in Avalanche.

 

FIRMIN:  I’m curious about the level of professionalism in those early years. Were you sending out press releases and just hanging— doing drywall for walls? Or were you just tacking everything up?

 

CLOUGH:  Well, in the first space, the first hallway that we used, it was— Well, if it wasn’t Sheetrocked, it was studs with Sheetrock on the inside, where the studios were. And it may well be that we put up Sheetrock. There’re a few different dynamics going on here. I was certainly reading the Buffalo art press to just follow what was going on, as well as the national, international art press. Let’s see. Larry’s brother Jack came back from Europe, where he was a model. He was sort of a playboy. He’d been divorced a number of times, and after the most recent divorce, came back to Buffalo and was living at Ashford Hollow. And he liked to party. And we said, “Look, Jack, we’re going to do this gallery. And if you throw in a thousand bucks or something to Sheetrock and put up lights and pay for printing, and publicity, we’ll have a party every week, every other week. And you know, you won’t have to go any— You can stay at home, have a lot of fun, be at the center of a social situation.” And he liked the idea. And so he paid for the Sheetrock and the lighting and— Yeah, we sent out press releases. It was really easy. It was Nancy Tobin Willig at the Courier, and Tony Bannon was just beginning to start to write for the Buffalo News. Jean Reeves preceded him, but she came and listened to our rap.

 

FIRMIN:  Can you describe the audience that you— I’m just wondering, who was actually coming to these events, these parties? And, [how were you developing] the audience on your part.

 

CLOUGH:  Well, I had friends at UB, through the studio art department and then through people that I— Judy Treible and Terry Gross and those people [knew]. And then Robert [Longo] had his posse from Buff[alo] State. You know, and I remember there was some friction about— there were some defaced posters. Pictures of Robert and I were scratched out, with Demigod written underneath it, so there were definitely people that were reacting against us. But by the time we had that first show, we had good publicity in place in the Courier and the News. And because we included Krims and Sharits and Hatchett, that kind of fed out into the— Nina Freudenheim had opened her gallery not much before Hallwalls started. Maybe even a little bit after, I’m not sure. Mid-seventies. There was another gallery, Martje More—what the heck did she call it? I don’t know, I forgot. But there was a kind of a gallery scene.

 

And there was another dynamic that was really important to Hallwalls happening, which was that the Albright would do their Western New York shows. And they’d have a juror who was a famous New York City artist come every time that they had one of their shows, and the jurors would— They wouldn’t pick people who thought that they should be in the show, like Larry Griffis and Tony Patterson and Wes Olmsted. So there was an antagonism between Larry Griffis and the Albright-Knox. And so Larry and Wes Olmsted and Tony Patterson and a few other people formed the Artists Committee, who were going to go to the county legislature and say, the Albright is excluding local artists, and so you should cut their funding and support the Artists Committee. I don’t know if they were actually going for the support for the Artists Committee, but they were going to, kind of shoot down the Albright. And a week before a show opened here, Linda Cathcart moved to Buffalo as a curator for the Albright. And so when our Working on Paper show opened, to good publicity, the collector community came and the Albright community came and— Let’s see. I guess Bob Buck was the director at that point.

 

FIRMIN:  He was.

 

CLOUGH:  Okay. So I don’t know to what extent he was directing Linda to snuggle up with us, but she— We were both interested in the same kind of stuff. She had been working at the Whitney and [had also] been working at Leo Castelli; and we were enthralled by Whitney art and Castelli art and Sonnabend art and stuff like that, and she knew those people. And she was a protégé of Marcia Tucker, who we were worshipping. And so it was, like kind of that [which] cemented us into the good graces of the Albright, because then with the eventual programming that we did together, the Albright could say to the county legislature, see, we are working with the local artists. Which was a little bit cheesy, because we were undermining Larry and— We sort of looked at— Larry was the Oedipal victim, the dad that we could all—

 

FIRMIN:  But when you started the gallery, did you have a financial situation that you arranged with him? It seems like Jack was paying for— Jack Griffis. But if you were actually having a gallery space, at that point were you having to pay rent?

 

CLOUGH:  No, it was unused space. And Larry’s a nice guy. He let us, you know? We said, “Hey, can we do this?” And his brother Jack was backing it. Jack would pay for the booze and the whatever else we had at the openings. So the publicity, the good publicity for 30 Essex Street, Larry liked that; Larry liked the crowds. Initially, fees for visiting artists, we would get from UB’s student activities fees, because we’d take the artist over there, they’d do something there, to justify that— And the same with the money that Robert had his hands on with Buff[alo] State. So we were able to jerry-rig financing with those resources. And I was certainly aware of the New York State Council on the Arts and aware that we needed to have a 501(c)(3) to get money, if we were going to go [and] try to get it. And I asked Larry if we could use them as an umbrella, and he said sure. So I think we put in our first grant request in March of ’74, and got $8500 for— I don’t know, probably that was for September to September of— No, no, no. ’75. Spring of ’75, we put in a grant request that I think we probably got in September of ’75, to run for the next twelve months. And then over that summer, Robert and Diane Bertolo worked at Artpark and Robert got to know Alanna Heiss, who did PS 1, the Clocktower, and so on. She basically wrote the NEA grant with us that summer, that got funded for, I don’t know, ten or fifteen [thousand dollars] or something like that.

 

FIRMIN:  And a couple of things interest me. First, this idea of connectivity or collaboration.  Hallwalls was not really anti-institutional. You had a very good relationship with Artpark, Robert was interning there and—

 

CLOUGH:  Sure, it was essential, because we— The co-programming was— Like the town I live in, in Rhode Island right now, you can’t do anything, because there’s no university, there’s no— There are no resources, like there are around here. Between the Albright and Buff[alo] State and UB, and especially Media Studies and Artpark, there were all these reasons for artists to want to come here. Some of them were coming here anyway, for Artpark, and then we’d just give another fifty bucks to come to Hallwalls and we could list them in our programming record. So we took huge advantage of every resource we could, as far as that went. So that artists would come here for many reasons, not just to go to Hallwalls. But Hallwalls, because of the list of names that we had, had some kind of reputation for avant-garde or whatever seemed to be cutting edge at that point in time.

 

FIRMIN:  And when did you start doing residencies? And what were they like?  What would you provide an artist with? A studio space and—

 

CLOUGH:  It was very informal. Jon Borofsky came. And actually, I think he got snowed out, couldn’t leave, and so that was a residency of sorts. Residencies in those days were just, if you stayed more than a couple of days and if you made work there, then you had a residency there. Acconci came for maybe a week. And the accommodations were not so fancy, let me tell you. Yeah, I mean— Well, one thing that was great about the Ashford Hollow building is that because it sprawled out and there was kind of more space than there were tenants, things could happen, just because they could happen. I mean, it seems to be different than other institutions that are more, you know, circumscribed and defined by rules and so on. There were no rules and we took advantage every way that we could imagine.

 

FIRMIN:  Do any [remember] any particular residencies or works [that] stand out?

 

CLOUGH:  Well, Borofsky made a wall drawing of a moose in snow that was very cool. The Acconci thing of making an installation in the gallery space, with an audio track, was cool. There were dinners with Michael Snow and Hollis Frampton, Paul Sharits. Ree Morton came, and I think I put her in a show. She was doing a residency at Artpark, but I remember having dinner with her just a few months before she died. That was kind of weird. Meeting the Vogels. Just before I went to New York to pursue my career, there was a Carl Andre show at the Albright-Knox, and the Vogels came up to see that. And I think Patrick O’Connell, who was the director of Hallwalls at that point, went and, kidnapped them and brought them to Hallwalls, where I met them, and it turned into— You know, they collected 600 works of mine, 200 going to museums in the fifty states, and then 400 going to you guys at UB.

 

FIRMIN:  So to backtrack a little bit, what was the relationship between these nationally recognized, important, whatever, for lack of a better word, artists, and then the local artists? Did you have a membership or member shows that—

 

CLOUGH:  Yeah. Well, it was ill defined. And it was, maybe unjustly, a sort of in group dynamic of if you were a friend of Robert or a friend of mine, then you came to the meetings, you heard about the meetings.

 

FIRMIN:  What were the meetings?

 

CLOUGH:  They were like handing out work. Who’s going to make sure there’s beer for the opening? Who’s going to fix the lights? Who’s going to help install a show? Who’s going to help write a grant? That kind of stuff. And meetings that I can remember were like eight to twenty people, frequently with a meal, frequently with beer.

 

FIRMIN:  Anything else? [laughs]

 

CLOUGH:  Oh, yeah, and other stuff. But membership— At a certain point, membership came into the picture. And it might be after we incorporated. The funding agencies—New York State Council and National Endowment—wanted us to separate from Ashford Hollow Foundation. So it was a process of about a year of incorporating and making bylaws and applying to the IRS for not-for-profit status. Ron Willig, the lawyer, helped us through that. I can’t remember his first name right now. But when those things came into play, then questions about membership and— You know, it became more transparently structured. And that was kind of— Let’s see. Cindy [Sherman] got an NEA grant in ’77, and she and Robert left in June of ’77. I think that’s how that went. ’77 and then ’78. Then I left in ’78. And by that point, John Maggiotto and Bill Currie were running the place; and membership, at that point, may have taken on a different sort of formal structure.

 

FIRMIN:  How did you decide what to show?

 

CLOUGH:  I had my list and Robert had his list, and it was based on going through the magazines and going through the shows that we’d seen. It was kind of like how you pick what music you like. You try to be present where the information is breaking, and then make your choices and see if you can execute your choices. You know, these days, it would be very hard to happen because the artists that become known are immediately pulled into the commercial art world, and that wasn’t the case in those days.

 

FIRMIN:  How did you communicate?  How was the invitation actually extended? Would you just give them a call?

 

CLOUGH:  You mean for people to come to a meeting?

 

FIRMIN:  Or artists to come from—

 

CLOUGH:  Yeah, we’d telephone them and see if we could visit their studio, and then figure out how to bring them into our programming, in terms of a particular show. Shows I did were Approaching Painting, Part One, Two and Three. So that was a way to include a lot of Minimalist painters and then process and materials painters. There was a photo show that I did, Artists Use Photography, and that brought in thirty people. Ones that were kind of available to come and talk, would; others, that were too big a deal or whatever, didn’t. Some that were a big deal. Richard Serra came to show his movie at the Albright. Robert Morris, the same thing. Lynda Benglis came because she was doing stuff at Artpark. So we could use the lure of the bigger institutions [that] made it attractive to artists who you would imagine wouldn’t give a shit about coming to Buffalo.

 

FIRMIN:  I’m interested, also, [in] what is your relationship to the preceding generation of artists? Because a lot of artists that you were bringing in were, if not your elders, they were definitely older and part of a different generation of artists.

 

CLOUGH:  Well, they were the people who were breaking in at that point. A lot of people born in 1941 stand out in my mind. Bruce Nauman. Maybe [Richard] Tuttle was born then, too. And you know, that was the generation that was breaking in, kind of. On top of what? Like Pop. Pop was sort of played out. Color Field, [Jules] Olitski, [Kenneth] Noland, that was kind of, sort of institutionalized. The stuff that didn’t seem to be institutionalized. Minimalism was just becoming institutionalized. So [for] [Sol] LeWitt, we went to his studio, he gave us the instructions. He didn’t come because he’s like, people shy. Tuttle. I think I just talked to Tuttle on the phone and he said, “Go get this catalog that has this paper piece that can be done in variable dimensions,” and did that. [Robert] Mangold, who is from North Tonawanda, we got him to come with Sylvia [Mangold], because they’re from around here. And the Albright had just gotten a piece of his and so that worked.

 

FIRMIN:  And when they were here, would they visit your studios and look at what you were working on?

 

CLOUGH:  Yeah. That was certainly part of our, if not explicit agenda, our hidden agenda. We wanted to become familiar with these people so that they would be our audience when we got to New York. And it kind of worked that way. At least they knew who we were, if they didn’t actually come to openings. But when we had a group show at Artists Space, in ’76, Robert and Cindy and Michael and Nancy Dwyer and me and Diane Bertolo, it was a well-attended opening, and attended by people that we’d had come to Hallwalls. So that worked. I mean, we were very self-serving.

 

FIRMIN:  So you talked a little bit about the transition to the non-profit status. And you saw that through because you were there for that year that it was occurring. And then it seems like once it became institutionalized— There were no directors before, and you were never really the director of Hallwalls.

 

CLOUGH:  Well, we acted that— I mean, we acted as directors, Robert and I. It was a dual dictatorship kind of a thing. And he was oriented more towards sculpture and installation and video, and I was oriented more towards painting and photography. That was sort of our dividing of the world. But other people— George Howell and Lee Eiferman did a literature program. They were involved with Ray. Ray, Ray, Ray. Robert Creeley came and read. Ray Federman? Federman?

 

FIRMIN:  Ray Federman, that would make sense.

 

CLOUGH:  Yeah. And others were brought in by those people. So anybody that had any kind of inspiration that they wanted to make happen, we would move aside for them to— Larry Lundy was into Dada-like manifestations, and he did some stuff like that. So you know, I like to think that we were diplomatic about how we could accommodate other people’s interests.

 

FIRMIN:  If you could describe maybe a day in the life of Hallwalls — In the early years.

 

CLOUGH:  Yeah.  Well, up at eleven, maybe go over to Elmwood Avenue for a big breakfast. [laughs] Back and either work in the studio or work at making phone calls and making sure programming was going to happen. Evening, sitting around the fire.  There was a sort of a— You know, if it wasn’t the dead of winter, there was a fireplace outside where we’d roast our meats. [chuckles] And then, drink ourselves to sleep. But there was a lot of reading, discussion and making things and so on.

 

FIRMIN:  And was it constant, in and out, people coming in and out?

 

CLOUGH:  Well, sort of. Constant; you know, not every ten minutes, but each week, a couple people would come by that were not just regular— not just sort of gallery visitors.

 

FIRMIN:  Alright. So is there anything else that we are leaving out? I think the transition to more of an institutional—

 

CLOUGH:  Well, in those days, you could do it that way. It’s like there’s an exhibition at 112 Greene Street, at Zwirner right now. Or maybe it’s down, I don’t know. But you know, and there’s the talk of how SoHo, at that point, was burned out and you were taking your life in your hands just walking around there, and what the nature of New York was at that point. And for Hallwalls, it was sort of a half generation after hippies, but still kind of informed by [a] hippie, beat sort of ethos, and certainly, not moving into the professional phase that arts management has gone at this point. There was a frontier that could be worked with or negotiated or explored through. That isn’t there anymore because there’s so much attention on emerging artists and commercialization seems to be about ten times as great as it was in those days. I don’t know, maybe twenty, maybe fifty. So you know, it was something that could only be done at that point in time. Something that would be a counterpoint to it at this point in time would have a totally different dynamic, because of the elements of the art world that are structured the way they are at this point.

 

FIRMIN:  I think one thing we haven’t talked about is the relationship— At one point, you became the director of CEPA Gallery, a photography gallery in Buffalo founded at the same time as Hallwalls, and you took on the debt management. What happened in that instance?

 

CLOUGH:  Well, CEPA began simultaneously with Hallwalls. Bob Muffoletto set up a storefront on Main Street that was both [an] exhibition [space], but also darkroom facilities. And Pierce Kamke, who was involved with Hallwalls, was also involved with CEPA. And then there were a whole bunch of what I always took to be friends of Robert—Kevin Noble and others—some of which had gone to Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester, which was technically part of UB. So there was this big photo component. In I guess ’77, Muffoletto wanted to bail and he was ready to dissolve CEPA. But it seemed like— they had their 501(c)(3), it was an ongoing thing, it could be resuscitated and kept alive and turned into a good thing. So I took over [the] presidency, just so that there was a name in the paperwork. And there were some debts that were not so big, that I paid off with Hallwalls money, that I think CEPA paid back to Hallwalls. It was just a way to keep it alive. And then Pierce, oh, and Biff Henrich kind of took that over. They were at Ashford Hollow Foundation together for a long time, and then they went to 700 Main Street and were, I guess, on one floor above the other floor. And then I think Hallwalls went to the Trico building, and at that point, I think CEPA went to the Arcade building. But they were parallel, and then there [was a] brother-sister relationship for a while, until they separated. But it was just another way to co-sponsor and get a larger critical mass that would get people to come here and get people involved, and helped publicize all the stuff that was going on.

 

FIRMIN:  So I guess a good place to end it is, what was the experience of leaving [Hallwalls] like for you?

 

CLOUGH:  Well, I was preoccupied with getting my career in gear. I’d also broken up with a girlfriend, who was [laughs] one of the ties to the area. So that was good; that sort of got me— That was like a catalytic moment of getting me out of Buffalo and into New York. And it segued really pretty well. I got a dealer—although maybe I should’ve waited for a better dealer. But I was showing pretty regularly, in New York and other places, as soon as I moved. And Nancy Dwyer hooked me up at Barnes & Noble, working for the first year or two, until I was making money from sales of work.

 

FIRMIN:  And Nancy Dwyer is someone that you met at Hallwalls, originally?

 

CLOUGH:  Yeah, well, I first met her at Artpark. She was an intern at Artpark in maybe ’75. She was an art student at UB, and Ken— What was his name? Ken, Ken, Ken. Her boyfriend Ken was involved at Hallwalls. Ken Davis, that’s his name. [He] did graphic design for us. And then Nancy just started hanging out with Michael Zwack, and so that was— They were in a relationship for a number of years. Went to New York together and sort of split up when they were in New York. But Nancy helped me get the job at Barnes & Noble. I met Liz at Barnes & Noble, ended up getting married to Liz. Zwack, I had my first studio at— Well, Dara Birnbaum. I sublet Dara Birnbaum’s place for six weeks, and then I moved my studio to Zwack’s. And so the transition was sort of within a kind of Hallwalls floating into another dimension and my career floating into another dimension. And then personal life, marriage, kids, et cetera.

 

FIRMIN:  Adulthood.

 

CLOUGH:  Adulthood, yeah. Well, I used to think of the Hallwalls experience as being a sort of crash course in middleclass family life. Like trying to get the bills paid, trying to get the money to pay the bills, keep everything functioning smoothly. I guess my family isn’t much of an alternative space, but whatever.

 

FIRMIN:  That’s great. Well, thank you so much.

 

CLOUGH:  [inaudible; END]